Orson Welles Othello
Summary: Othello, one of the four great Shakespearean tragedies, was brought to the screen by Orson Welles in 1952. It is a 93-minute black and white filmic production that might be entitled “Orson Welles’s Othello.” Welles was the manufacturer, the director, the screenwriter and even the main star. He played the title function of Othello, the Moor, by painting his face black with cosmetics. Among the significant concerns in Othello is about the position that an immigrant and a black man hold in a white society, and the movie’s black and white photography surprisingly fits this theme.
Nevertheless, it is unsettling to see a white actor playing the role of a black male. The initial text has actually been substantially abridged. No comical parts are left in, and Desdemona’s scenes, particularly her lines, have actually been decreased. Several intimate chamber scenes, moreover, have been included. Also, scenes are rearranged into a different order, but it is still Shakespeare’s language and the fundamentals of the story remain the same as Shakespeare’s powerful story of jealousy and competition. The film starts and ends with the funerals of Desdemona and Othello.
With the theme song that is heavy and sad the audience is instantly exposed to an upside-down picture of Othello’s face. It is the corpse of Othello, pushing a stretcher and carried to the plaza. Close-by is another stretcher, which holds the dead Desdemona. The funeral procession is led by priests holding a giant cross and surrounded by soldiers. Meanwhile, the bad guy, Iago, with a chain on his neck, is being led and taken into a cage. As the procession moves near, the cage is pulled up and Iago is seen awaiting the sky.
With a blank face, from the bottom of the cage, Iago gazes at those guys bring the dead Othello. The story continues with using flashbacks. Regardless of her daddy’s opposition, Desdemona and Othello fall in love and get wed. This marital relationship is not blessed even from the start. When this delighted couple comes out from the chapel, Iago and Roderigo are standing in the shadows, enjoying them and conspiring treacherously. In the film, the very first words spoken by Iago are, “I hate the Moor and I want to poison his delight. Upon hearing this, the audience can predict how the story will establish. Othello’s better half, his love and pleasure, Desdemona is immediately picked by Iago to be the tool to harm Othello whom Iago dislikes and to assault Cassio, Iago’s rival. Under Iago’s shrewd manipulations and deceptiveness, the hot-tempered Othello turns his jealousy for Cassio to homicidal insanity and kills innocent Desdemona. Orson Welles is good at telling stories and communicating significances through special cam angles and suggestive settings.
For instance, the scene in which Othello reveals his remorse and has the last dialogue with Iago after killing Desdemona is shot with a big gate. The scene reveals a guilty Othello “behind the bars” and from the other side, we see the sinful Iago is also “behind the bars.” One exception, nevertheless, is that the scene in which Iago manipulates Roderigo to murder Cassio is somehow improperly (or at least relatively needlessly) set in a Turkish bath. For Shakespeare’s loyal readers, this arrangement may seem abrupt and unforeseen.
One description for this scene is that Welles had problem discovering enough funds for the movie. “On the shooting day for this scene, the necessary outfits had actually not yet shown up, so Welles rapidly moved the action to a Turkish bath where he might dress his stars in only towels and sheets” (source). As for the stars and their acting, Orson Welles as Othello, naturally, is the primary focus. If we disregard the truth that he was using heavy cosmetics to appear as a black man, Welles really is an excellent Othello.
In many scenes, when he was among people in a crowd, you can see that he sticks out, not just due to the fact that he is physically taller, but likewise since he is able to reveal Othello as a courageous soldier. Iago, played by Michael MacLiammoir, has as many scenes and lines as Othello. Iago is a bad guy and the audience knows that from the start. MacLiammoir is successful in regards to not overdoing the facial expressions to demonstrate how vicious Iago is; instead, he manages to let the advancement of the story and the character’s habits accomplish that.
Suzanne Cloutier’s Desdemona is disappointing, but the writer Orson Welles must be accountable for that. Cloutier plays a sweet and innocent Desdemona. This blonde girl, Cloutier, in lots of scenes, specifically in those with Othello, often takes the position that highlights her vulnerability. Desdemona speaks more in Shakespeare’s play, which allows an audience to know her more. In this motion picture, she is decreased to a tool for Iago and a victim in her marriage.